Santa made an early stop in Grand Rapids, Michigan, to visit with babies who are spending their first Christmas in a neonatal intensive care unit.
Jason Yakes, a NICU nurse at Helen Devos Children’s Hospital, dressed up as Saint Nick to snap photos and snuggle with the adorable little ones. Every detail was cleared ahead of time by the Infection Prevention department and Yakes' red suit was laundered in a special way.
“As you know, these moms and dads don’t get to bring their babies home with them,” Yakes, 48, told TODAY Parents, noting that many of his patients were born five months early. “Anything that can bring these families some sort of normalcy and light is godsend. It makes such a difference in their lives. There were tears of joy.”
Jordan Sellars can attest to that. Her son Brixley Kasper is a new patient at the hospital’s Gerber Foundation Neonatal Center.
“It was really fantastic that these nurses would take even more time than they already do to make us feel special and important,” Sellars told TODAY Parents. “We’re in the middle of a very hard time, and it made it feel more like Christmas up here.”
Jordan Trevino, who is mom to 2-week-old twin boys, Roman and Milo, described the holiday event a “highlight” in a rough year marked by the COVID-19 epidemic.
"It's such a nice memory to have," she said.
For Yakes the best part of the day was seeing eyes crinkle with happiness.
“One thing that I’ve missed terribly during this pandemic is smiles,” he revealed. “But you could see people’s smiles through their eyes. You could tell they were smiling so big under their masks.”